U.S. Navy Elevates Priority of Ship Repair Programs

The carrier USS Nimitz in drydock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (USN)

By The Maritime Executive 09-13-2019 09:29:17

The U.S. Navy has created a new civilian leadership post focused on the service's ship repair needs - an important policy priority, given the maintenance backlog for certain components of the fleet and the challenges facing the Navy's public yards. 

James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, announced the creation of the new leadership position Friday. “Building a workforce aligned to mission is critical to competing and winning,” he said. “Establishing a deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for sustainment [DASN-S] to develop, monitor and implement policy and guidance throughout the Navy will enable us to better plan, program, budget and execute the Navy’s sustainment mission. Sustainment is as critical as new construction to ensure Navy is ready to deploy."

The new position will have oversight of sustainment funding across the Department of the Navy, including Navy and Marine Corps sustainment and life cycle management policies. It is a policy role, Guerts said, and the operational control of everyday maintenance activity will still fall under Naval Sea Systems Command. The Navy has not yet released the name of the hire who will fill the post. 

Guerts highlighted the Navy's other steps to improve maintenance flow. For surface ship maintenance availabilities at private shipyards, the Navy is adjusting its contracting to group the work for multiple vessels into one contract, providing more workload stability and predictability for the private yards. 

For submarine and aircraft-carrier maintenance,generally done at one of the four public yards, the Navy is conducting a 20-year shipyard infrastructure optimization plan, which coordinates required drydock maintenance and modernization, optimizing workflow and replacing outmoded equipment.

“Across the board, we need to improve how we execute ship maintenance, whether it’s done in a public or private shipyard,” said Vice Adm. Tom Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command. “We need to work with our industrial partners to provide workload stability and, for the Naval Shipyards, we need to provide our 21st century workforce with 21st century facilities and equipment.”